The right attitude

Yesterday in one of my paragraphs I wrote these words regarding stuff ~ …acquiring it, for most people, is much more fun than having to deal with the task of getting rid of it. However with the right attitude the decluttering can be far more rewarding than the acquisition of the items in the first place. ~ Which brought to mind my friend in Sydney who I helped declutter recently. Now there is a lady who had the right attitude.

She had acquired so much stuff over a long period of time. We had also discussed her starting to declutter well before she suddenly had to move. Yet she had done nothing about it. Then her hand was forced and all hell broke loose, luckily I was available to come to the rescue. But that aside, I was pleasantly surprised at just how open minded my friend was to decluttering.

Now you have read most of the story here, here and here but I feel inclined to elaborate further as a result of Wednesday’s post. When I went to help my friend I imagined that she would be reluctant to get rid of a lot of stuff and I could see us packing most of it up and moving it to her new place. I thought this especially about the sentimental items she had, and there were a lot of them. You see she is a very sentimental person and therefore, much of what I would consider just stuff, she attaches significance too. I don’t know what makes some people like this and others not but I often wish I could rescue those that do from the heartache of sentimentality. Mind you a lot of sentimentality is born of heartache in the first place but that is a whole other post to consider writing.

Anyway, my friend had the right attitude. She had decided that enough was enough and she didn’t want to continue living that way. So much stuff, the usually kind of clutter, sentimental stuff, aspirational stuff and simply excess stuff, when out the door in droves. This, as you can imagine pleased me no end. We made such great progress that first weekend and that is why I was happy to go back and help her the next week. While I was there on the second visit she was at work both of the full days that I was there and in the evenings she was tired and reluctant to make an effort with the decluttering. Understandable but a little disconcerting for me nonetheless. I felt it didn’t bode well for the future where I would leave her to carry on with the task alone.

Well once again I was proved wrong. The last night I was there was the eve of a day off for her and I was about to leave the next day. I insisted that she had to make decisions on what was to be decluttered among all of the items I had set aside in her living room. It took us until nearly midnight but she, without complaint, ploughed through every single item. Worn out we went to bed to rest ahead of a race to the temporary finish line the next morning before I had to depart. And wow what progress we made. The place was looking really good by the time I left.

It would be fair to use the expression “Ye of little faith.” to describe me at this point because I still wasn’t sure how long the decluttering determination would last once I walked away. I had warned promised her I would send a weekly mission for her to tackle for some time. I decided to give her a little break from my nagging for the first couple of weeks in order for her to recover from the two weeks of mayhem but then the missions began. I called her on the second week to see if she had done much since I had left and she had done of few tasks without any interference from me. However, being the hard task master that I am, I felt she could have done more and once again had doubts that she was slacking.

Anyway I am nothing if not hopeful and I set her a reasonable simple task for the next week. And I was pleasantly surprised, she not only accomplished that task but she also took on a couple of other decluttering projects of her own. One included decluttering a piece of furniture to a teacher friend of hers. I think she got great satisfaction from not only liberating some space but especially from helping her friend and realising the benefits of her actions for the young students.

At this point I realised my lack of faith was unwarranted. So with cheer in my heart I set the next weeks mission. To go through her vast collection of scarves and declutter any that she didn’t want to waste space on. As it turned out the mission was unnecessary because she had already decluttered all but two of them on our first weekend together. I knew she had decluttered some but I didn’t realise she had done such a thorough job. I was a little taken aback when she told be this when I was talking to her at the start of the next week, thinking that I had all but given her the week off. But my renewed faith lead me to ask if she had done any other decluttering since the task I set was so easy. As it turned out she had decluttered and reorganised her utensils drawer in the kitchen. She also informed me that she managed this while working her usual day job and also working on her days off doing babysitting. I naturally gave her a big attagirl for her efforts and then we discussed what she might do this week.

We also talked about how good she felt about getting rid of more stuff and about how many people she has helped by giving away her stuff to them. There is the thrift shop, her teacher friend, a lady she met on the bus and a friend of a friend who are in to  cross-stitch, a group of little ones that she engaged in a craft afternoon with using her excess craft supplies. And of course there is me, who has been another beneficiary of her crafting materials, many of which I have already use to make cards for my art space.

So as you can see my dear friend had the right attitude. She had had enough of being cluttered and did something and continues to do something about it. She also made me promise that I would still email her weekly projects while I am overseas. I have every faith that she will do a superb job of it.

Today’s Mini Mission

Put something out on the street, in your apartment foyer or in the staff room at work with a FREE sign on it. It is always fun to see how quickly this method works.

“If we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we’d be happy with more?” — Unknown

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Mini Mission ~ Friday 22Dec2017 Declutter a couple of old shabby shoes that you no long choose to use.
  • Mini Mission ~ Wednesday 20Dec2017 Declutter by recycling some items. That mound ofused takeout containers, old newspapers and magazines, paperwork that needs shredding, glass jars you set aside in case you have a use for […]
  • How little we really need Every time I go on a long vacation I am reminded of how little one really needs to live a comfortable and functional lifestyle. My husband and I often stay in Airbnb places when on […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Excellent post, Colleen! We all have enjoyed hearing about this decluttering event with your friend. I’m glad you ended up pleasantly surprised with her progress. Never sure how some of these experiences are going to turn out – could be good – could be bad. I’m out of decluttering mode right now because I’m up to my ears in tomatoes and peppers, so I’ve been canning a Mexican and an Italian sauce. A lot of work, yes, but I do adore my own tomato sauces.

    I haven’t posted much lately, but I have been reading. One thing that came to mind is that I recently placed internet orders to two different companies for spices/hot sauces from Louisiana that I can’t get here in Colorado. The packaging that came was incredible! Each bottle of hot sauce or jar of spice was double-wrapped in bubble plastic and came in a huge box, then stuffed with Styrofoam peanuts. Eeeee-gads!! I think there is a place that I can turn in the plastic and the peanuts to be reused and then recycle the cardboard box.

    Yesterday I was in a kitchen gadget store as I am still looking at pot racks. I looked at lots of neat things, but didn’t buy anything. 🙂

    • Yum Michelle, you have mentioned your delicious sauces before. Oh and how annoying is excess packaging. I like that Amazon send surveys to let them know how satisfied customers are with the packaging. When I rarely order something I let them know if the packaging is excess in the hope that they will improve on this.

  2. So often we all want it both ways – we want the ‘vision’ home but don’t want to give up our stuff, unfortunately the laws of physics don’t work that way.

    Glad to hear that your friend is still making inroads.
    And thanks for the reminder about scarves, I noticed mine on the hanger the other day and thought there were a few which had gone thru winter without being worn.

    • I agree with this. I do find myself wanting it both ways sometimes, but things have to be gotten rid of if you truly want to live an uncluttered life. I am slowly relizing and putting this into practice, mostly by no longer buying “stuff”

    • “…unfortunately the laws of physics don’t work that way.” I like that moni, I’ll have to use it in the future.
      Let us know how you went with those scarves. That reminds me, I should pack one into my luggage for my upcoming trip. Thanks for that reminder.

  3. Today I parted with my set of “Little House On The Prairie” books – a gorgeous re-release about 8 or so years ago with lovely gingham design on the cover border. I loved these books as a little girl and I bought this boxed set for my daughter. I have made a couple of attempts at giving these away but it just didn’t happen, usually an attachment issue at my end. The collection included the books relating to Laura’s mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, plus her daughter Rose. Recently some events have fallen into place and my niece has asked for them, so they’ve gone to her house. I’d always promised myself that I would read the additional books, but found them a bit simple for my preference, but decided to make a positive out of having the flu, they have been read and I am happy to let them go.

    • Good for you Moni, sentimental attachment can certainly make things harder to part with but when we are ready we can finally do the deed. My wedding dress is still hanging in my closet but one day I will make a decision. Meanwhile I get rid of more and more craft stuff and make money from it. Gotta luv that sort of decluttering.

  4. I think this is sometimes the problem with given missions… They can be of great help sometimes and spur your decluttering, but sometimes they just don’t fit (if only not in your busy schedule). It’s great to hear that your friend did take them for what they should be from the beginning: a few starting points and suggestions. She got the main part right, which is that decluttering her own belongings is ultimately her own thing to do and she can slow or speed up pace and has to make the final decisions. I think as she seems to “own” this idea now, there is no need to worry, she will someday reach her goal! 🙂

    • Hi Sanna, I agree, even when I am writing the Monday post I think “These missions won’t suit everyone.” but they will suit some and plant the seed of thought in others, while the rest can just substitute them for something that suits them. They are only a suggestion after all.
      You are also right about fitting the decluttering into ones schedule. It is alright for me to be able to do stuff almost anytime because I don’t work a paid job. That doesn’t mean I don’t keep busy of course but it certainly gives me a wider scope of time to deal with my stuff. For others it isn’t so easy. But ten minutes a day is doable on most peoples schedule and that is all it takes to dip out something to declutter. Disposing of it at a later date as time permits is just fine. I certainly didn’t rush off the the thrift shop or eBay every day. I took care of that when it suited me. Having set the items aside was good enough for me in those ten minutes.

      • You are certainly right there, Colleen! I find, I sometimes feel so energetic, “small” missions, like e.g. make-up (I don’t own more than a handful) are just too little to do, while other times a mission tackles an area that is somewhat hard for me (e.g. paperwork, that is something I am almost physically afraid of), when I am already low on energy or maybe unwell. So, for me, I don’t stick to your mini-missions very much, yet I still read them and I’m sure they find their way to somewhere back in my brain and keep popping up when I’m more feeling “like it”. When I first started off decluttering, I tended to stick to set goals more and sometimes would faint when I felt I couldn’t make them “on time”. So I think, it’s important to learn along the way that such missions or goals are just arbitrary posts on your way to the end goal “decluttering” and that it’s ultimately up to you and no one else which things you tackle at which time and how fast you go about it. Your friend seems to have that right already, so good for her! 🙂

        • Hi Sanna, that is all true. It only becomes a problem when people (I know a few) continue saying the want to delcutter, have a ton of time up their sleeve but do nothing. Even I “think” I go through busy periods but if I’m honest with myself spend far too much time on the internet looking at ideas for things to do. I’m not talking about decluttering here but crafting, avoiding making phone calls I should be making and things like that. I have been focus on this lately and am determined to change my ways. I will give it lots of thought while I am on vacation.

  5. The Lifetime channel is running old episodes of “Hoarders” in the morning when I get ready for work. I cannot imagine the importance of a can of fuzzy green beans, but it’s a whole mental mind set. I feel bad for people who are that way.

    I found a new place to donate clothes and household goods yesterday. I’m happy to have another place to do that, although there isn’t a whole lot to donate right now. The leaves are changing here in Colorado – getting ready for wintertime. It may be a good time to check the closet out again and get rid of old summer clothes.

  6. Colleen, I think it is great that your friend has been doing so well with decluttering. I haven’t reported on my friend lately so wanted to tell you that she is still doing well. She has kept more than I would but that is her choice. What is good is that loads and loads of stuff has gone out of her house. She has now reached the hard stuff–what her husband hangs onto. He has been willing to let go of some things but has a long way to go.

    We are doing pretty well. We are trying to weed out the things Mom wants to get rid of but thinks we need to keep until the house is sold so it stays looking nice from those we can get rid of now. I have made a list of those things we will get rid of later.

    • Hi Deb, that is good news about your friend. It helps that people are ready for the change. They are much more likely to stick to it.
      Also good to hear you are also decluttering well with your mother. I would have given the same advice about making a list of those things that she will be willing to declutter later. It will make it easy to round them up closer to moving time.